They Used To Be
-South Of Nowhere
-Ashley/Spencer, unrequited; Ashley/Aiden
-Set during the beginning of Season Three. Angst.
-But his back is strong and his eyes are wounded and all Ashley wants is Spencer again.
His back is strong and she knows this purpose so very well, having covered this ground before and having sung this song before.
She could hum along if she wanted to – the tune going in and out of her ears with his kisses and with his devotion. And she could let the sound get louder; let it keep on crashing on her head like a wave.
Ashley could let it all just sweep her away and, somewhere in the ocean of life, she just might feel better about herself again.
But his back is strong and his eyes are wounded and all Ashley wants is Spencer again.
He is talking and she is trying to pay attention. But the fluttering of some girl’s hair, golden locks beating out the sun, just rips Ashley away from him.
And he says things that make no sense, not anymore. And he smiles about things that mean nothing, not anymore. And he loves a woman that isn’t really there, not anymore.
Ashley falls into a daydream even with him there, his wounded eyes and his strong back.
She dreams of Spencer, of the hands that used to hold and the lips that used to open wide. She dreams of Spencer, of love so pure and of lust so raw.
He stops talking and that when Ashley hears him again. Loud and clear.
He sleeps the sleep of a man on the run, sweating and shaking.
She used to calm him. Now she knows that her body is another thing he fears and cannot escape.
They used to be friends, long before sex and a lost child.
They used to be friends, long after relationship burned out, a flame snuffed.
And if she were a better person, Ashley would finally send him on his way.
And if she were a good person, Ashley would finally stop using him this way.
And if she were the best person she could be, not with a uniform and not with a gun, Ashley would take off from this bed and beg Spencer for forgiveness.
But she isn’t good or better. And the strong back at her side is hers to destroy, each lack-luster kiss given to his mouth just tears a little more at her heart.
Whatever is left of her, the gray matter and the muscles in atrophy and the shivers up the spine that only happiness can bring about, it all hangs on Spencer.
It always did.
Butterfly Finally Free
-South Of Nowhere
-Set at the end of Season One. Slight fluff.
-She never knew how old she felt until she felt young again… until she felt her age again.
Not wanting to make decisions for anyone, just wanting to flutter through life and not get caught – not by nets claiming to be love and not by pins calling themselves friends… she doesn’t want that, but finds her own lips moving and finds her own heart beating and Ashley knows she is losing at her own game.
Everyone catches it. It lingers on her face like milk, fresh and eager white along her mouth.
And she wants to keep drinking it up, god-dammit, she wants it all the time.
She never knew how old she felt until she felt young again… until she felt her age again.
But seventeen feels like a rush of cool air on her body and Ashley wants to shout from the rooftops that she is in love, in love and on fire and owned. Someone has laid waste to her heart and she doesn’t care at all – she is happy to give it all up.
Butterfly finally free, Ashley curls her hand around Spencer’s arm and they kiss.
-South of Nowhere
-Set in the middle of Season One. Somewhere between angst and something else.
-But in the glint of spring sunlight, Ashley fears that Spencer already knows.
Something catches her eye, on that first day, and Ashley never tells anyone about it.
Not even Spencer.
It spins in her gut violently and it just might bubble up in her throat, so Ashley says stupid things to create space and takes off like a frightened animal.
When you are cornered, strike first. Then flee.
National Geographic, with mating and killing and lessons in how to live, that’s where Ashley grew up. She didn’t look to those Strawberry Shortcake girls, pig-tails and sharp nails.
She was the lion. They were the gazelles.
It is just with make-up and with sneers. It is just with curse words and with cliques.
She cuts you before you can cut her.
Strike first. Make it count. Then duck and run.
Zig-zag patterns through the underbrush, no one could follow that path.
You had to be tough. You had to be ruthless.
And Ashley doesn’t like seeing this other side emerge, this porcelain girl made of flesh and blood, this child capable of pain and of wanting.
She sniffed it out, on that first day, and she never tells a single soul.
Not even Spencer.
But in the glint of spring sunlight, Ashley fears that Spencer already knows.
And if they catch you, decide if you can get away. And if you can’t get away, submit.
Twister With Emotions
-South Of Nowhere
-Ashley/Spencer, unrequited; Ashley/Aiden, mentions of Kyla
-Set at the beginning of Season Three. Angst. Use of some actual dialogue.
-The answer to that riddle, it never came, not with money and not with fame.
The answer to that riddle, it never came, not with money and not with fame.
It didn’t rest in Aiden’s eyes – shattered boy soldier, messed up lover. It wasn’t there when Ashley looked for it, desperate and needy and in a rush to forget everything else.
But his hands are rough where hers are soft.
And his touch is cool where hers is hot.
His love is familiar where hers is new and wild and calling out like a siren-song.
Ashley, when she comes, only sees the cliffs ahead.
Blue and blonde and clean and shining like a million suns, all Ashley sees is Spencer.
She doesn’t flirt and that’s just for him.
For a friend she used to love that way and for an obligation to someone she just has to keep around, she doesn’t drag any girls home and she doesn’t collect their numbers like stamps.
Her sister, wasted and abused, just looks at her one night. She stares and stares and Ashley feels like the girl is seeing too much.
“God, you are as pathetic as me, aren’t you?”
And Ashley just rolls her eyes, like a bear flashes claws or a fish hurries upstream, and walks away.
Because Aiden is there, underneath sheets of silk, and he’ll pretend everything is better than it is.
That’s what they’ve become – a lie they tell to each other, a game that children play.
Twister with emotions, hand to red and feet to green… head to elsewhere and heart to other people.
He walks out the door and Ashley wishes it hurt more.
It should hurt more. It should almost kill her with agony.
But his picture, the one where his arms struggle to contain her, just fades into the background.
It was always over-shadowed by the other one, the one with a smile and joy and acceptance… it was always second best to Spencer.
And her sister is asleep on the couch, hands wrapped around a magazine and the television on.
And Aiden’s motorcycle helmet is gone from its perch on the bar, leaving no mark of his ever being there. And the clock ticks away the minutes, time hasn’t stopped a bit, not for mistakes and not for longing.
Ashley raises her phone and her fingers are moving before she can even look at who she is calling.
But, deep down, she knows who will be on the other end of that line.
“I miss you so much, Spence…”
“I know, I know. We’re not together anymore.”
“No… but I still, you know, like talking to you.”
She turns around and it is all a damn dream again. And Ashley is still right here, in her room and in her nightmare of a life.
He is still there, asleep and drifting and slowly dying.
No one has walked away from this disaster yet.
That is, except for Spencer. Spencer Carlin, alone on the cliff-side, basking in the glow of the moon and pulling Ashley along without saying a word.